I feel like everybody should know about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Isn't it sad how unexpected it seems to see a woman playing a guitar in old black and white footage? It seems almost bizarre. Sister Rosetta Tharpe doesn't just play the guitar, she brings so much energy and passion to it-- it's joyful, or at least, it always perks me up to see her play and sing. She has a huge sense of spirit.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was definitely a pioneer in the world of gospel and rock n roll too. I don't really think there's anyone else like her. She was popular in the 30s and 40s. She wasn't afraid to blend the sacred with the secular, which was kind of revolutionary at the time. Apparently she was quite shocking in her day, which makes sense because watching her even today she was so far ahead of the game and so fearless, it's shocking and also affirming to know she existed.
Watching a woman perform in gospel robes clutching and coaxing an electric guitar, the newly invented symbol of sin to so many at the time, it's refreshing! It's exciting! It's inspiring! She's a consummate performer and entertainer; she's killer. Check out a performance:
The fact that we have these videos seems like some kind of miracle to me. It seems like a lost relic from a time that feels so long ago, it's practically forgotten. I think it's important to revisit Sister Rosetta! I never get tired of hearing her voice and solos.
She lives in the Gospel section here at Amoeba.